In a virtual meeting a couple of months ago, Charter CEO and editor-in-chief Kevin Delaney showed me an electronic keyboard he keeps in his office, which led to a conversation about how much he enjoys playing the piano. The moment was a fun insight into a side of a colleague I hadn’t known before, but it also got me thinking about what I enjoy doing outside of work.
A growing number of studies highlight the connection between a good work-life balance and job performance. Yet the pandemic has blurred the line between work and life for many employees. I know it did for me—since the start of the pandemic, I’ve largely put my own passions for music and dance on the back burner. (After that conversation with Kevin, I purchased an electronic keyboard to get back into music.)
One way employers can help restore that line is by actively encouraging employees to pursue their interests outside of work, which helps them mentally disengage—or “psychologically detach”—from their jobs during after-work hours. Research has found that psychological detachment can improve mood, well-being, and even employee productivity. On the podcast The Happiness Lab, writer Simone Stolzoff likened the value of our non-work activities to investing: “Similar to an investor who might want to diversify the sources of their investments…to have a more balanced portfolio, we too benefit when we have a diversified identity—when we have distinct sources of meaning in our life.”
I spoke with Harvard Business School assistant professor Jon Jachimowicz, who studies and writes about this topic, to learn how companies can encourage their employees to pursue passions outside of work.
Here are three strategies:
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